Cabinet Secretary: CYFD Priority Will Always Be Safety of Kids

08.28.2011

By Yolanda Berumen-Deines, CYFD Cabinet Secretary
Editorial as published by the Albuquerque Journal, Aug. 28, 2011

New Mexicans have seen the Children, Youth and Families Department in the news quite a bit. Much of it has been good news about the work we are doing to keep children safe, like our #SAFE initiative, the progress of our juvenile justice Cambiar model, and our new health and fitness program for incarcerated girls.

We have also been very public and outspoken about instances where CYFD employees are not working in the best interest of CYFD and the people we serve.
We are and will continue to discipline employees up to and including termination when their actions, on or off duty, violate the law or our own CYFD code of conduct. The only delay in firing wayward employees comes from state personnel policies and state and federal statutes and laws that we do not control.

We will use every tool available to us to clear our ranks of employees who do not deserve to work with kids or families. We are grateful to the State Personnel Office for the work they are doing on the policies that impact our ability to deal with inappropriate employees in a quicker and more fiscally efficient manner.

The majority of CYFD staff works hard to keep kids safe and protect our community. These employees have a passion for children and are pillars in our communities. I am proud of our CYFD staff and am honored to work side-by-side with them.

But like any large organization, there are sometimes serious employment challenges, and New Mexicans see these challenges played out on the front page of the Albuquerque Journal and on our nightly newscasts.

And there is a reason for this: In this new administration CYFD is holding all staff to higher standards. Those employees who are unable to uphold this standard will be dealt with appropriately. We will not compromise this standard, and we will be accountable and transparent to the people of New Mexico.

My message to CYFD staff is that you are supported and appreciated in this administration. We know that you do a difficult job in difficult circumstances with limited resources, and you have our gratitude and support. We know that most of you are ethical and hardworking, with a passion for helping kids and families. Employees who don’t share that passion, and who are not ethical and law-abiding, don’t belong at CYFD. We will find them, and we will rid our agency of them.

To New Mexico taxpayers and all of our community stake-holders, I want to assure you that you can have full confidence in the Children, Youth and Families Department and the work our people do every day in our communities.

We are taking strong action to improve our processes in this department and to ensure that we earn and keep the public trust. When we do this, it is much easier to spotlight employees who are not acting in the best interests of the people we serve. When we find cases like this, we will always take swift action.

Our number one priority is and always will be to keep kids safe and honor the commitment we have with New Mexicans to do our job effectively, honorably and ethically.